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Who's bigger than Beyonce?

"It is hard to think of Beyonce as an advocate for anything but an ideal of spritzy confidence. She is celebrating the pleasure of doing things well and not making a particularly big deal of it. This is a fairly unisex sentiment, if you are listening closely. For those who need a firmer guiding hand, [Lady] Gaga can push you along."

That is Sasha Frere-Jones writing in the new issue of the New Yorker, an article comparing pop music's two current queens, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Most of what I've read about Gaga usually compares her to Madonna, and although the Big M is referenced here (how could she not be?), writer Frere-Jones concentrates on the contrasting styles and influence of Ms. Knowles and Lady G.

For as much as I understand modern pop music -- not a lot -- this is a fascinating read.

Interesting P.S.: I was visiting the Sirius radio studio the other day in Manhattan, doing a little something for the WowOwow website with Marlo Thomas and Gloria Steinem. In one of the green rooms there was an oversize Rolling Stone cover on the wall, trumpeting a singer named Adele. Two of the very smart young women from WoW, also there, Hilary Black and Emily Gallagher, assured me that Beyonce and Gaga were nothing compared to Adele!

This amused me, because the New Yorker article does mention Adele: "Her career is likely to be long because she is selling to the demographic that decides American elections: Middle-aged moms who don't know how to pirate music and will drive to Starbucks when they need to buy it."

Writer Frere-Jones perhaps underestimates Adele's appeal.


Over in England, royalists are still fretting that actress Natalie Dormer, who plays the beloved Queen Elizabeth (later the even more beloved Queen Mum) in Madonna's coming "W.E" movie, will portray this revered figure in a "savage, unflattering manner." Well, she doesn't play it that way, although it's no secret that the Queen Mother was nobody's fool and a tough cookie. That's how Dormer handles it.

Nor is Wallis Simpson (played in the movie by Andrea Riseborough) made to appear overly sympathetic -- the Brits worry over that, too. But director Madonna does not cast the character as heroine or villain. In life, things are rarely so black and white, as Madonna herself knows.

It all happened 75 years ago. I remember sitting on the floor at home in Texas, listening to the astonishing King Edward VIII say he would give up his throne for "the woman I love." It did seem kind of dreamy. But England, on the verge of war, has never quite recovered or forgiven the "romantic" abdication of their monarch.


Fran Drescher's "The Nanny" was a very amusing little sitcom, especially in its last few seasons where the star was obviously winking at her audience and having a heck of a good time.

Fran's latest, "Happily Divorced," which is based on her own real-life experience with a husband coming out of the closet, is lame-brained even on the generally witless level of most sitcoms. It is an insult to gays, straights and all plant and mineral life. This makes "Hot in Cleveland" look like Noel Coward. And, at least, there is a terrific chemistry between the ladies in "Cleveland" (including the fabulous Betty White). Better luck next time, Fran.

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